By Douglas Maxwell Myer, Contributing Writer
Westborough – The Westborough Community Land Trust (WCLT) has been committed to preserving over 173 acres of natural forest for the past 20 years. In recent efforts to peak local residents’ interest in visiting the town’s scenic trails, the Westborough Walks Meetup Group was established as an all-volunteer nonprofit organization in April 2016. Keith Martin and Don Burn (the founder of the Charm Bracelet trail system) are the organizers of this group who welcome anyone to come along on their nature ventures. Residents can discover great wilderness locations, while also learning general facts about the woods and the town’s intriguing history.
The hiking events which the meetup group takes part in usually extend to about two hours, but it can vary from whichever forest paths they choose to travel. Ideally they like to switch up their schedule, doing morning and afternoon walks on both weekdays and weekends.
“The WCLT Education Committee leads several hikes each year with guides who speak on local history, archeology, and nature topics,” noted Martin. “Many of our hikes have no formal agenda, but our guides often point out tips and add a little color commentary. I enjoy pointing out some of the many Boy Scout Eagle projects that have improved our trails over the years.”
The group has a few regular members who attend most of their hikes, but Martin and Burn frequently get acquainted with a variety of people throughout all of their events. 2017 has been a very successful year for the Westborough Walks Meetup Group. Approximately 60 attendees came to the archaeology walk at Cedar Swamp – one of their biggest events to date.
On Oct. 15, two separate hikes occurred on the same day. One was co-sponsored by the Westborough Public Library on which author and educator Corinne H. Smith led the group in exploring the life and work of naturalist Henry David Thoreau. The second hike was toward Upper Jackstraw Brook where 15 hikers experienced five miles of wonderful fall foliage and unique encounters with a deer and praying mantis.
The group is always open to new members.
“We have over 50 miles of trails in town to choose from,” said Martin. “The Meetup Group was founded to help our community discover the many trails and open spaces in Westborough. We have heard that many people are intimidated by going out in the woods on their own, and we try to show how safe and easy it is to explore the trails.”
For anyone interested in volunteering in any capacity for trail monitoring or maintenance is encouraged to send an email to [email protected]. To find out more about the Westborough Hiking Group, go to Meetup.com and type in “Westborough Walks” in the search icon for groups.